Head out East on an unassuming minor road from Barnard Castle and you encounter the amazing French Chateau that is the Bowes Museum.
It was purpose-built as a public art gallery for the Coal magnate, John Bowes and his wife Joséphine Chevalier, Countess of Montalbo, who unfortunately both died before it opened in 1892. John Bowes was the illegitimate son of John Bowes the 10th Earl of Strathmore, and Kinghorne.
The museum contains some exceptional works which had been collected by John Bowes during his life and travels, including works by Canaletto, El Greco and Goya as well as artefacts from antiquity right up until the late C19th.
As well as the fine artworks in the well lit galleries, there are rooms of exceptional porcelain from Europe and the far east, fashion and costumes throughout the ages and some splendid items of furniture.
The Silver Swan
A wonderfully crafted silver swan automaton can be found in the main galleries.
Visiting the Bowes Museum
Once in Barnard Castle, it is easy to find with plenty of signage – and its still pretty much the largest building in the town. There’s plenty of free parking so its really easy to get to, with fully accessible access available to all areas.
There is a reasonably priced cafe on the ground floor past the shop, serving light meals and hot and cold refreshments.
The Bowes Museum is open daily, 10am – 5pm and closed only 25 & 26 December & 1 January.
To find out more visit the Bowes Museum website.